FestivalsLive Reviews

FESTIVAL REVIEW: 2000trees Festival 2023 – Wednesday

Set in the beautiful surroundings of Upcote Farm, this year one of our favourite festivals 2000trees was celebrating its 15th birthday and we weren’t going to miss out on the party. As a four-day event with a smaller Wednesday warm-up evening, we made the journey on the train and shuttle bus, set up our tent and got down early to make sure we didn’t miss a moment of the action.

Kicking off 2000trees 2023 over in the forest was SNAYX (pronounced snakes for all of you wondering). Performing material from their Weaponized Youth: Part 1 EP alongside new tracks H.A.N.G and Boys In Blue; for many this was an introduction to their politically charged punk-rock sound. Drummer Lainey Loops kept the spirits and energy high with the driving drumlines and Ollie Horner and Charlie Herridge were upfront whipping the crowd into a frenzy with the first pits of the weekend opening up. Their interlude of Vengaboys We Like To Party made the forest turn from 4pm in the afternoon to 4am in the morning as the party had well and truly begun at 2000trees. 7/10 NC

Following a short Becky Hill soundcheck from Delaire The Liar’s Ffin Colley, the band launched into new single Bite Trap and warned the crowd “We came here to fight for our fucking lives”. Vocalists Em Lodge and Colley bounce off each other’s energy showcasing their battle-filled dual vocals which can flutter from raw screams to beautiful melodic in the next moment. Teasing at more new material to come, Lodge took lead vocals on an unheard track flaunting her beautiful tone in the stunning forest surroundings. Furnace saw this weekend’s first crowd surfer complete with roaring singalongs from the crowd, gritty guitar lines and the chaos we couldn’t wait to continue as the weekend went on. Delaire The Liar truly are a band to watch and we sure will be. 8/10 NC

2000trees has been a special festival in the career of Press To MECO, which meant it felt very special to see them play their final show here at the 2023 event as 2000trees Legends. Opening their set with Another Day, the alt-rock outfit weren’t messing around as the crowd chanted back their much-loved lyrics as pits opened up and even mini-moshers on their parent’s shoulders got in on the action. The trio’s vocals are harmonious and a delight to witness for one last time and shone brightly during If All Your Parts Don’t Make A Whole; becoming a highlight of our first day at Trees. It was a beautiful atmosphere in the forest and whether you were a Press To MECO fan or not, you couldn’t help but love each moment of the set where every last bit of energy was given to help the trio say goodbye on a high. Closing their set with a double whammy of emotive A Test Of Our Resolve (“I don’t think this will be how we pictured this” explained Luke Caley) before thrashing us right back to out of pace with Gold, it was the perfect goodbye to a band who have made 2000trees their spiritual home as truly painted the forest gold with the unwavering love for them. The following day saw a rebirth of sorts as Luke and Jake’s new project Unpeople took to the stage introducing themselves to the world. 9/10 NC

Angry, in your face and emotive are words you’d use to sum up a Saint Agnes live show. With the rain threatening to make an appearance, the band led by Kitty A. Austin and Jon Tufnell chased it away as opening track At War With Myself took hold. The heaviest artists of the day so far showcasing tracks including dual vocal effort Sick of Myself before the beautiful moment came as Austin explained “this might be hard for me to sing” before launching into their new single This Is Not The End; a tribute to the vocalist’s mother who passed away unexpectedly. Saint Agnes are a truly special band and with their new album Bloodsuckers out this year, we can’t wait to see which stage they’ll be gracing at 2000trees 2024. 8/10 NC

This warm-up/early entry day of the festival also saw Holding Absence and Bob Vylan perform deep-cut sets prior to their slots over on the Main Stage later on the weekend. Ahead of the release of their new album The Noble Art Of Self Destruction, Holding Absence gave fans one last hurrah for some of their most loved tracks from their discography which they confirmed may not be played again for a long time to come. Bouncing onto stage and chanting “I’m Alive” from Celebration Song, it seemed clear vocalist Lucas Woodland’s vocals had a strained edge to them tonight, striking concern for the set and weekend to come. However, as the set progressed, moments such as Monochrome and You Are Everything saw him get into his swing of it as the crowd sung-along when he may not have felt able to. In the beautiful forest surroundings, it became a magical moment during Coffin as the slow-tempo track was supported by torches and lighters lighting up the forest; it was simply stunning and felt like the band had landed on their feet here. With the forest performance under the belt, it was only the main stage the band had yet to perform on and this all changed on Saturday evening. However, if you’re a Holding Absence fan, this was a set which shouldn’t have been missed as we took trips down memory lane including back to 2019 with Your Love (Has Ruined My Life) led by the overwhelming crowd singalong. Holding Absence are set to have a great 2023 as these shows were set to be their last before the album release and with the most supportive of fanbases behind them, the possibilities are truly endless. 7/10 NC

We make our way over to the Word Stage for the first time today to see Haggard Cat. You’re always guaranteed a fun time in the company of Matt Reynolds and Tom Marsh, as the duo deliver a set of raucous rock ‘n’ roll that keeps the energy soaring. It’s the first time the Word Stage has had a barrier, Reynolds explains, which perhaps doesn’t come as a surprise as a sea of bodies move on top of the crowd at regular points throughout the set. The duo dedicate a song to Press To MECO, who played their final ever show earlier in the day, building to the set finale which sees them close out to a chant of “Haggard Cat,” as Reynolds is carried across the tent by their adoring fans. A brilliant band who know how to bring the party. 8/10 HG 

Rounding off tonight’s proceedings was Bob Vylan, who performed an intimate set where they took time out to interact with the crowd, tease them about the setlist coming their way and hype up the crowd for a Laurie Vincent appearance which sadly never sufficed. Jumping onto stage and proclaiming “What is going on? Bob motherfucking Vylan is going on” we took part in a forest stretching and meditation warm up led by the duo ahead of what was set to be an energetic set. Throwing themselves into Northern Line with raucous drums, spitting vocals and an instant pit, Bob Vylan had made their arrival known. With tracks touching upon the issues with police in today’s society “The only good pig is a dead pig” prior to Pulled Pork or the viciousness of I Heard You Want Your Country Back getting everyone up on their feet moshing, singing and thinking about what we were being told. Shouting out SOFT PLAY who were headlining the following night, it became a story time session as we found out about the involvement in the name change from Slaves to SOFT PLAY and how drummer Bobbie has once again been voted the cutest drummer in punk-rock. Closing their set and our night with their take on Nirvana’s Territorial Pissing, we’d had the best start to our trees experience. Did everyone have the best first evening at Upcote farm? Yes. We can also confirm that as silly as we felt during the warm-up, it might have saved many of us from some sore bones the next day! 8/10 NC

Written By: Hannah Gillicker and Nicola Craig

Nicola Craig
Head of Live with an unwavering love for the seaside, live music and writing about others instead of myself. Twitter: @nicolalalalar